Saturday, March 29, 2008

Jimmy Buffett's Swine Not?

It has been a crazy semester, which has meant that I have not been as attentive to this blog as I would have liked. Now, at least, it's time for our much-needed spring break, and as we're headed to Key West for some of it, I figured I'd mention the forthcoming novel by Jimmy Buffett called Swine Not?, which tells yet another story of a pig in the city.

Buffett's novel, apparently based on a true story, concerns the adventures of Rumpy, a pot-bellied pig brought to a New York City residence hotel by his Tennessee family (more information here if you'd like it). Helen Bransford provides the illustrations for Buffett's story, including the image above of Rumpy with some of his pigeon friends. If you happen to be a Parrothead (I am not a Buffett fan, actually, though I've been to the Keys enough to kinda see the appeal) it might be worth picking up when it's released in May.

The more interesting question is why the urban pig seems so appealing (think of the Eloise books, Babe: Pig in the City, etc.). Today these texts play off the rural-urban and nature-culture dichotomies, but once upon a time pigs were ubiquitous in the streets of cities and there was nothing romantic about that at all. More on that later once I've found a way to scan some of the illustrations about the perils of pigs in the streets from an early nineteenth-century children's book I've found.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

"Great Movie Pigs" Slideshow

I was contemplating a post on the rising popularity of pigs in movies (the most recent appears in the ads for Disney's College Road Trip), when I happened to look at today's L.A. Times online and found a great feature and slideshow put together by Susan King called "Great Movie Pigs" (here). 

The famous pigs depicted on the site include Babe, Napoleon, Porky, Miss Piggy, Hamm, and Wilbur, among others. King's feature is accompanied by a few quotes from animal trainer James P. Warren (he's worked on Charlotte's Web and College Road Trip, among many, many other films), who notes that "If you look at all of those films, they tend to use smaller pigs. They go for the cute look--the little pug nose. I think they are so animated when the move and how they look at the camera. What they can offer is so much, it's very appealing."

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Breaking the Association of Pigs and Truffles

The Los Angeles Times ran a nice article (here) this morning about the spike in truffle prices in France, largely due to a drought that has reduced the size of the annual harvest. The article is accompanied by a picture of a truffle hunter and his dog, not his pig. It goes on to note, sadly, that "truffle-hunting pigs--bigger, hungrier and harder to manage--have largely fallen out of favor." Perhaps this headline in The Onion--"Airport Security Pig Finds Concealed Truffles"--was a sign of the times. For a brief history of why pigs have traditionally proved so good at finding truffles, see this 1982 article by Walter Sullivan in the New York Times.

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